Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Review of lesson two:

Thank you for joining us for our second lesson of Biblical Reflection. Here’s a quick review of the lesson:

A. The Human Psyche Before the Sin
Before the sin, Adam and Eve were totally engaged in their activities. They were described as naked, but it didn’t feel shame. For Adam and Eve, intimate relations were part of the natural order, void of selfish desires. The experience was similar to eating for the sole purpose of nutrition. The psychological precursor that allows for the development of evil is a sense of awareness of feelings, emotions, and physical sensations- that we have termed as knowledge.

B. The World of Evil Before the Sin
Kabbalah compares evil to a peel. The peel of a fruit provides a vital service, protecting the fruit from insects and environmental hazards. However, when the fruit is ready to be eaten, the peel must be removed and discarded, for it no longer serves any purpose.
The serpent was the embodiment of evil. Originally its mission was to serve and assist the spiritual dimension of creation, just as a peel exists solely for the fruit. The serpent, however, sought to establish its own independence, an existence separate from its intended mission – thereby hijacking spirituality and exploiting it for its own purposes. The serpent was able to take advantage of a vulnerable aspect of creation – the dual nature of humans who are a synthesis of spiritual and physical – which made humans particularly susceptible to serving as a host to evil.

C. The Seduction of Eve
The seduction began when the serpent asked Eve if G-d had really forbade eating from the trees in the garden. In this non-aggressive way, the serpent attempted to highlight a seeming lack in logic – prohibiting the use of a part of creation. All creation is good and has a purpose; prohibiting its use prevents its purpose from being fulfilled.

Eve affirmed the prohibition regarding the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, but added the prohibition of touching its fruits as well. Such an addition represents Eve’s rationalization of G-d’s command, assuming that it was more than a warning to prevent evil – simply a cautionary measure. At this point, Eve had injected her own reasoning into G-d’s command, and the foundation was laid for the sin.

On a deep level, Eve also perceived an immense spiritual possibility for getting to know evil and resisting its allure. She felt it would both deepen her appreciation of good and make her stronger. When Eve passed near the tree, the serpent pushed her – and she touched the fruit. When she nevertheless remained alive, the serpent was also able to convince her that eating would not necessarily harm her.

D. Why Eve?
Both Adam and Eve embodied a divine consciousness and sought to reveal the inherent spirituality in creation. A key difference between them, however, was that Adam was created through fusing two separate identities, the physical and the spiritual. Eve’s being, on the other hand, was spiritually integrated from the moment of her creation.

Adam thus sensed the physical and spiritual as conflicting realms, and he felt a need to conquer and alter it. But Eve saw no such contradiction and thus did not feel an innate urge to change the world. She sought not to transform, but to develop, bringing the world’s inner perfection to the fore.

Next week, we’ll examine the irrevocable changes in Adam and Eve and within the world as a result of the sin – and we’ll discover the incredible power of repentance.

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